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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Abington, Mass.

The Old Grist-Mill

By Richard Henry Stoddard (1825–1903)

BESIDE the stream the grist-mill stands,

With bending roof and leaning wall;

So old, that when the winds are wild,

The miller trembles lest it fall:

And yet it baffles wind and rain,

Our brave old Mill! and will again.

Its dam is steep, and hung with weeds:

The gates are up, the waters pour,

And tread the old wheel’s slippery round,

The lowest step forevermore.

Methinks they fume, and chafe with ire,

Because they cannot climb it higher.

From morn to night in autumn time,

When harvests fill the neighboring plains,

Up to the mill the farmers drive,

And back anon with loaded wains:

And when the children come from school

They stop, and watch its foamy pool.

The mill inside is small and dark;

But peeping in the open door

You see the miller flitting round,

The dusty bags along the floor,

The whirling shaft, the clattering spout,

And the yellow meal a-pouring out!

All day the meal is floating there,

Rising and falling in the breeze;

And when the sunlight strikes its mist

It glitters like a swarm of bees:

Or like the cloud of smoke and light

Above a blacksmith’s forge at night.

I love our pleasant, quaint old Mill,

It still recalls my boyish prime;

’T is changed since then, and so am I,

We both have known the touch of time:

The mill is crumbling in decay,

And I—my hair is early gray.

I stand beside the stream of Life,

And watch the current sweep along:

And when the flood-gates of my heart

Are raised it turns the wheel of Song:

But scant, as yet, the harvest brought

From out the golden fields of Thought!